110 Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Household Items
With a little creativity, many common household items can be transformed into something else that's entirely different and amazing. Check out 110 extraordinary ways to reuse old items.
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Mattress Spring Flower Wall
This clever DIYer used old mattress springs for a flower wall. The springs are hung on the side of the house near the patio. Try these 15 creative ways to hang a plant outdoors.
Instead of tossing that cardboard milk or orange juice carton in the recycling bin, cut off the top, wrap it with fabric and use it as a planter for herbs or flowers. For more ideas, visit Cut Out + Keep.
Fabric and Electrical Conduit Divider
Window Shutter Storage
Next time you see old window shutters at the resale shop, pick one up. Screw on some small baskets and use it as a seasonal decoration or to store items such as garlic, onions and potatoes in your pantry.
Wallpaper is making a huge comeback in home design, as long as it’s unique and limited to an accent wall or two. For a unique statement, try wallpapering with book pages. Once you figure out the basics of hanging wallpaper, you’ll have this unique feature wall complete in no time.
Pallet Wine Rack
Here’s a simple woodworking project on how to build a wine rack — use some old pallet wood to make a wine rack. The rack would make a great addition to an outdoor patio area.
Use Soft Socks to Clean Blinds
The next time you need to clean your window blinds, use a sock over your hand! Your hand makes a perfect tool for reaching all of the nooks and crannies on the blinds, and the sock picks up dust wonderfully. When you’re finished, just throw the sock in the washing machine.
Who says practical storage can’t be pretty? This DIY Knife Block, made from old books, is easy to make. Simply pick some unique books in your favorite color scheme and tie them together tightly with twine to create the perfect home for all your kitchen knives. You can even create different color schemes based on the seasons and holidays, making this a versatile hack. Need more counter space to accommodate a knife holder? Need more counter space to accommodate a knife holder? Here’s how!
Magnetize a Screwdriver
This old trick could save you hundreds of dropped screws over your DIY lifetime. Grab a magnet and rub it along the shaft of a screwdriver a dozen times or so. Rub in one direction only, kind of like sharpening a knife. In about 10 seconds, you’ll have a magnetic screwdriver. Repeat as needed. Add a magnetic strip to the workshop for an even better use of magnets.
Pull-Tab Picture Frame Hook
Reader Carrie Tegeler has a clever tip for hanging pictures. If you run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest pop can. Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off. Then screw it to your picture frame. Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture.
Use a Sneaker to Clean Sandpaper
Make sandpaper nearly new again with a lowly old sneaker. Start up your power sander and dust collection system (remember to wear hearing and eye protection). Then slowly press the rubber sole of an old sneaker along the sandpaper — you’ll see a difference instantly!
Foam Ball Tool Storage
Here’s a pointer on storing pointed tools for instant availability. Drill 5/8-in. holes through a few 4- or 5-in. foam craft balls (available at craft stores), and skewer and glue them along a 5/8-in. dia. dowel with construction adhesive. Screw together a 3/4-in. wood bracket, drilling a stopped 5/8-in.-diameter hole 1/2 in. deep in the bottom end and a 3/4-in. hole through the upper end. Screw the bracket at a convenient height, slide in the foam balls and load them with drill, router and spade bits; paint brushes; screwdrivers; Allen wrenches; awls; X-Acto knives; pencils and, well, you get the point.
Beat the Dust out of Cushions with a Tennis Racket
Upholstery absorbs lots of dust — and then sends it airborne every time you sit down. Routine vacuuming reduces the problem, but can’t suck out the deep-down dust. So take cushions outside a couple times each year, preferably on a windy day, and spank the dust out of them. An old tennis racket makes a great upholstery beater. Learn 25 of the craziest cleaning tips that work.
Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush
Next time you’re at the discount or dollar store, pick up an electric toothbrush to add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease.
Duct Tape Kayak
Mythbusters created a boat made of duct tape in an episode and so have others. As long as the seals are water tight it’s possible. Duct tape also works well as a guard when using a spinning sander to prevent fingers from brushing up against the wheel. Check out some of these clever duct tape hacks you’ll wish you would’ve thought of.
Tennis Ball Bottle Opener
Slice a tennis ball in half using a utility knife. (Be sure to stabilize the ball in a vise or with clamps while cutting.) The rubbery inside of the ball is perfect for gripping stubborn twist-off bottle caps or sticky jar lids.
Use Tongs to Clean Blinds
Make quick work of cleaning your window blinds by using kitchen tongs! Secure rags to the ends of the tongs with twist ties, and then clamp the tongs on each blade to clean both sides of the window blinds at once.
Milk Jug Scoop
Cut off the top of an empty gallon or half-gallon milk jug with sharp scissors. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first. Clean up the cut to make sure there are no sharp or rough edges. Replace the jug cap and you have a handy (and pretty much free) scoop for pet food, potting soil, etc. Remove the cap and you can use the scoop as a funnel!
See what you can do with a milk jug in the garden as well.
Grass Seed Broadcaster
When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers for repurposing ideas. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container — it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!
Bread Tabs for Labeling Cords
Not sure which cord goes with which electronic device plugged into your power strip? Save yourself the hassle of following the cord from the plugin to the device for each item you need to move by labeling them. Plastic bread tabs are perfect for labeling cords that are plugged into a power strip because they’re sturdy, have enough room to write on and can easily clip around the plugin end of a cord. Plus, they often come in different colors. You’ll be able to easily identify and move your electrical devices.
Rubber Band and Paperclip Binder
Store small extension cords neatly with this simple office supply hack: Attach a paperclip to a small rubber band. Then wrap the rubber band around the bundled cord and clasp the paperclip onto the rubber band again. No more tangled extension cords!
Check out this simple idea for extension cord storage.
Bobby Pin Nail Holder
There’s no need to risk hammering a finger when working with tiny nails or in tight quarters. A common bobby pin makes a great nail holder — and keeps your fingers at a safe distance! Once the nail is started, remove the bobby pin and continue hammering away.
Paper Towel Cord Storage
Give empty paper towel rolls new life as cord wranglers. Fold small extension cords neatly before slipping them into their own individual storage sleeve. You can even label the cords by writing on the cardboard.
Be safe and learn how to prevent electrical overloads!
Pie Plate Dustpan
Create a quick disposable dustpan out of an aluminum pie plate. Use tin snips or heavy-duty scissors to cut the pie plate in half. Sweep up the mess and toss it in the trash!
Paper Towel Roll Bag Storage
There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. For instance, you can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. Here’s a great tip for storing them: Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it.
Paper Towel Boot Storage
Insert one or two empty paper towel rolls inside each of your tall boots to help them keep their shape while in storage. When tall boots are back in season, you won’t have to spend time ironing out creases.
Toilet Paper Roll Hair Band Organizer
Keep elastic hair bands in one place — not scattered in drawers or in the bathroom sink or all over the floor. Slide them in an empty toilet paper roll, which can then be neatly tucked into a drawer. The small cardboard tube keeps the circular hair accessories organized yet still easily accessible.
Tin Can Water Bottle Holder
Keep cold water within reach when mowing the lawn on hot days. Simply attach an empty (and clean) tin can to the handle of your walk-behind mower using zip ties. Be sure to select a can that is large enough to fit your water bottle!
Egg Carton Painting Props
Keep a few empty egg cartons with the rest of your painting supplies. They’re great for lifting a small project off of a work surface, making it easier to paint nooks and crannies and along the base of the project.
Grocery Bag Shoe Covers
Reuse plastic grocery bags as shoe covers. The plastic keeps dirt and water contained, and the handle loops can be tied around your ankles to keep them on when you step inside your house for a quick break.
Crack Nuts with Hand Tools
Family Handyman tested using several different hand tools to crack open a variety of nuts. The good news is that all of the tools we used worked, but a couple got the job done a bit better. Click here to find out what we learned.
Greenhouses from the Salad Bar
Reuse a plastic clamshell container from the salad bar as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring. After washing the container, punch a few holes in the top. Fill the bottom with potting soil and plant your seeds. Close the lid and place the container in a sunny spot. It acts like a mini greenhouse, allowing the sun to reach the plants while holding in moisture.
Tape Containers for Furniture Glides
Don’t have any furniture glides on hand when you need to move a piece of heavy furniture by yourself? Dig into your painting supplies and use the base of a FrogTape container under each leg on the furniture piece. It’ll then slide smoothly across the floor.
Garden Gloves to Dust Knickknacks
Slip on a pair of cotton garden gloves and turn your fingers into cleaning tools for knickknacks and other small accessories throughout your home and office. Add a spritz of antibacterial cleaning solution and get rid of germs, too!
Pipe Insulation for Baby-Proofing
Use foam pipe insulation to baby-proof your home. Cut the tube to length and slip it onto edges and corners that could be dangerous to a small child. The pressure of the curved foam will keep it in place for an easy-to-remove baby-proofing solution. Or, use the adhesive strip to hold the insulation in place for a more permanent safety fix.
Wine Box Shoe Storage
Find a free shoe storage container at almost any store that sells wine. Originally designed to protect glass bottles, a wine box is perfect for organizing shoes as well because it comes with cardboard dividers already in place!
Coffee Filters for Dusting
The next time you clean your computer monitor or TV screen, use a coffee filter. The thin, cloth-like paper catches a lot of dust and can cover a large area. You can use a coffee filter for dusting other household accessories, too.
Quick Smartphone Speaker
Make a quick speaker for your smartphone by simply placing it (speaker side down) in a small piece of pottery or a bowl made of ceramic, plastic or other hard material. The sound will bounce off of the bottom and amplify it throughout the room.
Try it outside too, with a trash can amplifier.
Floor Swiffer for Walls
A Swiffer Sweeper floor mop is useful for more than just cleaning hard floors. Use it to dust interior walls and trim, too! Attach a dry cloth to the rectangle end and press it along walls and trim. You can pick up dust, cobwebs and dirt safely, without having to step on a ladder.
Bathroom Drawer Insert from the Kitchen
A silverware drawer insert works just as well in the bathroom for organizing toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, razors, clippers, lip balm and more. The various sizes of compartments keep items looking neat and easy to find.
In a small bathroom, every square inch counts. Use these clever tips to wring extra bathroom storage from unexpected places.
Hanger Magazine Rack
Create a quick magazine rack for your bathroom or bedroom using a hanger. Place the magazines on the horizontal bar of the hanger; then hang it on a drawer pull or cabinet knob for reading material at the ready.
Hot Glue Gun Uses: Fix Wobbly Furniture with a Penny
Write Notes on the Washer
When you put a load of clothes into your washing machine, use a dry-erase marker to note on the lid which items should not go into the dryer. That way, whoever switches the load from the washing machine to the dryer will know which items to leave out for line drying. The enamel finish on most washing machine lids is similar to a whiteboard, and dry-erase markers can be removed easily with a dry paper towel.
Use a Pool Noodle Inside a Drawer
Reader Roy Allison found a solution for keeping his silverware drawer organizer from moving around each time he opened or closed the drawer: a pool noodle! He cut the noodle to size, so that it fits snugly between the back of the organizer and the back of the drawer. Click here to see how it’s done.
DIY Hand Scrub
Harsh hand cleaners can irritate the skin, especially during cold weather. But reader Jay Bjornstad uses dish soap with sugar instead — and it still cuts through the grease to get his hands squeaky clean after a long day in the shop.
Prevent your furniture from sliding into your walls and leaving scuff marks that are difficult to remove. Reader Dwight Hillock screwed doorstops onto the back of his sofa legs at the height of the baseboard along his wall.
Use a small trash can to not only protect your speaker from rain and other outdoor elements, but also to amplify your tunes! Turn the trash can on its side and simply place the speaker inside.
Erase Marks on a Keyboard
When your computer keyboard gets dirty, use a standard eraser to remove the marks. Use a corner or small end of the eraser to press down firmly on each key and rub until the mark is gone.
Pool Noodle Wrist Rest
Make this easy pool noodle wrist rest for your desk. Mark the noodle where you want to make the cuts; then slice the noodle lengthwise at the marks using a utility knife. It may take a few passes with the knife to get all the way through to the center of the noodle. Pull the pieces apart, and place one piece flat-side-down in front of your keyboard. That’s it for one of the easiest repurposing ideas around!
If you have old buckets with broken plastic handles, retrofit the buckets with new handles made from an old garden hose. Cut short lengths of hose, slit each one with a utility knife and slide them over the handles. If you can remove one side of the wire handle, you can just slide the hose grip on without slitting it. The handles work great and keep those buckets on the job!
Levels tend to slip when you’re trying to mark a line on a wall. Make it an anti-skid level by sliding several rubber bands (or one fat one) over each end.
Rubber Band Clamps
You can buy special woodworking clamps to hold hardwood edging in place until the glue sets, but they’re expensive and you won’t use them often. Instead of buying specialty clamps, you can modify some of your spring clamps instead. Grab a few rubber bands and presto — instant edge clamps. These clever clamp storage tips help keep your workshop organized.
When you’re working on the roof, wrap rubber bands around tools to help them stay put. The rubber will grip on roofs with up to a 6/12 slope.
Paint Brush Drip Stopper
When you wipe your paint brush against the inside of the can, paint fills the rim and eventually runs down the side and onto the floor. Solve the problem by wiping the paint against a heavy rubber band wrapped around the center of the can. Excess paint will drip back into the can without making a mess or gumming up the lid.
Spin most of the excess paint off your roller sleeve by holding the roller frame inside a bucket and hitting it with a nozzled garden hose. In seconds it’ll be nearly paint free. You’ll still have to use soap and water to finish, but this’ll give you a huge head start.
Want your next painting project to look like it was done by a pro? This tutorial shows you the techniques you need to know.
Make a small-parts clamp by wrapping a rubber band around the jaws of needle-nose pliers. The rubber band keeps the jaws of the pliers clamped together for holding small items. It works especially well for getting nuts into inaccessible spots or for starting small finish nails.
No More Rusty Garden Tools
Try this handy tip from reader Gary Snell: When you change the oil in your lawn mower, pour a quart or so into a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand. Now store your garden tools in it. This keeps them rust-free and ready for use.
Better Bucket Storage
Stacked 5-gallon buckets fit together so tightly that it’s almost impossible to pull them apart. Prevent the problem by placing a large plastic pop bottle (with top on) or milk jug between each pair of buckets. You can still nest the buckets together, but they won’t stick together anymore.
Easy-Mount Mini Bins
Electrical junction boxes can hold a lot more than wiring. You can nail or screw them to just about anything anywhere. In the shop, they’re great for those tools that can’t hang on hooks—tape measures, markers, chisels, etc. Plastic boxes are inexpensive and come in various sizes and shapes.
Mini Tools From Concrete Nails
Need a nail punch, skinny chisel or tiny screwdriver RIGHT NOW? It’s only as far away as a box of 3-in. concrete nails. These nails are made extra hard for pounding through stone, concrete and thick layers of stucco. Plus, they’re easy to grind into the mini tool you need. Be sure to hold the nail in a locking pliers for safe grinding, and dip it in water frequently to preserve its temper. Finally, don’t forget eye protection.
Panpipe Tool Storage
While this tool storage device may look like a variation on the Pan flute of Greek mythology, it’s actually a great place to store tools that easily get lost — like chisels, files, pencils, scroll saw blades and hobby knives. For the fatter tools, use PVC cement to join short pieces of 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe side to side into a panpipe design, then add pieces of 1/2-in.pipe along the front of the flute for skinnier tools. Build a simple case around the pipes to create a floor and a back for hanging on a shop wall.
Stay-Put PVC Pipe Cutter
Here’s a nifty way to cut PVC pipe on the fly. Just make a couple of notches in the top of a 5-gallon bucket. Set the pipe in the notches and you’ve got a stable spot for sawing. As a bonus, you can load up the bucket and carry your tools along, too!
For 33 ingenious ways to use PVC pipe, check out this collection of tips.
No-Rattle Ceiling Fan
If the screws that hold the light globe to your ceiling fan tend to work loose and then hum or rattle, slip a wide rubber band around the neck of the globe where the screws grip it. The rubber band prevents the screws from loosening, dampens any noise and protects the globe from overzealous screw tighteners.
Here’s a nifty way to store chisels, files, carving knives and spade bits. Sew 1- to 1-1/2-in.-wide parallel pockets in a carpenter’s apron (about $3 at a home center). Leave a third of the apron’s width free of pockets so you can roll up the tools in a neat bundle. The apron strings tie the whole thing together, and your cutting tools stay sharp, dry and organized between jobs.
Handy Bench and Tool Bucket
A 5 gallon bucket with lid comes in handy out in the garden and not just for collecting weeds. You can load it up with all your gardening tools and carry them easily from place to place. If it starts to rain, protect the tools with the lid. But according to reader Julie Abbot, here’s the best part — the 5 gallon bucket with lid doubles as a portable stool when you need to rest or do some pruning. The only problem is that the lid can be hard to pry off. Solve that by cutting off all but two of the plastic tabs. The lid will go on and off in a snap. For more clever gardening shortcuts, check out this collection of tips.
DIY Dog Feeder
Reader Justin Moujoodi found a great way to make a self-filling dog feeder with a couple 5 gallon buckets. With a saber saw, cut the bottom off one bucket to create a serving tray, and cut a food dispensing hole in the food storage bucket (as shown). Cut part of the lip off the bottom of the food storage bucket to flatten it, then use silicone to glue the two pieces together.
NOTE: Don’t build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control.
Check out our collection of clever and unusual ways to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using things you’ll find around the house.
Paper Tube Saw Guard
Here’s an inexpensive way to protect your fingers and the blade of your bow saw. Slip an empty gift wrap paper tube over the blade. Just slit the tube lengthwise and slide it on.
String Pipe Cutter
Amaze your friends and mystify your neighbors by cutting PVC pipe with a string. It’s a great trick to know if you have to cut pipe that’s buried in a wall or some other tight spot. We used a mason’s line to saw through 2″ PVC pipe in less than a minute.
Need to splice PVC pipe? Here’s how!
Storage Pockets for Skinny Things
Saw off short pieces of 1-1/2-, 2- or 3-in. PVC plumbing pipe with 45-degree angles on one end. Screw them to a board to hold paint brushes, pencils, stir sticks and just about any other narrow paraphernalia in your shop. Mount them by drilling a 1/4-in. hole in the angled end, and then drive a 1-5/8-in. drywall screw through the hole into the board.
Foam Ball Hand Protector
Make a Mattress Sling
Trying to wrestle a heavy, floppy mattress anywhere is tough. Many mattresses have handles, but they’re not intended for carrying. They’re actually made to help you position the mattress, so they’re not very strong.
Here’s an easier way to carry a mattress: Make a simple rope sling that will give you and your helper a lot more control. Thread the rope through the mattress handles. Slip a 5-in. piece of 1-in. PVC pipe over the rope ends and then loop and tie each end to create a comfortable sling grip. Flip the mattress over so the sling is on the bottom and you’re on your way.
String-Dispensing CD Bins
Here’s a great way to reuse empty CD bins. Drill a hole in the top of the bin for the string to slide through, then screw the lid under a shelf and snap on the string-loaded bin. Pull down and snip off the desired length and never worry that your ball of string will roll away across the floor dragging its tail behind it!
PVC Knife Holders
Carrying kitchen knives safely for picnics and camping trips is challenging. So one reader made knife containers out of two PVC pipes and caps. He glued the cap on one end and marked the unglued cap with an ‘X.’ That way he always knows which end to open. We think this is one of the most brilliant camping storage ideas ever!
Power Cord Coilers
Got a shelf loaded with drills, saws, sanders and routers but can’t untangle the cords to safely pull one off the shelf? Buy a pack of elastic ponytail holders and use them to keep the cords neatly coiled while the tools are stored. Snugly loop the ponytail holder around the cord so it stays on the cord while you’re using the tool.
Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You’ll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you’ve made good use of the tubes.
Chain Saw Blade Guard
New Uses for Old Glove Fingers
Don’t throw out your old work gloves. Cut the fingers off and you’ll find lots of uses for them. Use them to protect the tips of chisels when you need to carry them. They’re also good for softening the grip of pliers and many other applications.
Garage Storage Tubes
Cardboard concrete-forming tubes are inexpensive ($10 at many home centers) and provide a great place to store baseball bats, long-handled tools and rolls of just about anything. Rest the tubes on a piece of 2×4 to keep them high and dry. Secure each tube to a garage stud with a plumbing strap.
Easier Mulch Unloading
If you drive a pickup truck, when you buy mulch in bulk it gets dumped into the bed of your truck with a front-end loader. You could shovel the mulch out onto your driveway and haul it from there to where you needed it. But this is a much easier method. Load the pickup bed with 5-gallon plastic buckets and have the mulch dumped into the truck as usual. Then use a rake to even out the load so every container is filled up. When it’s time to unload, do it one bucket at a time and dump the mulch exactly where you want it. Store the buckets in the garage, and use them throughout the year for all sorts of projects.
Fast, Inexpensive Table
Aunt Edna just called to tell you she’s coming for the holidays (and bringing some nice people she met hanging around the bus station). Trouble is, you don’t have enough table space. Don’t worry; just run to the home center and get a 10-ft. length of 3-in. PVC pipe, four 3-in. toilet flanges and a hollow-core door. Hollow-core ‘slabs’ are 80 in. long and available from 28 to 36 in. wide. Cut the PVC to make legs and assemble the table as shown. And then check out our tips for finishing a table top. It’s not a masterpiece, but under a tablecloth it looks fine. Plus it’s light-weight and easy to disassemble and store until next year. Just remember that hollow-core doors aren’t very strong so don’t sit or stand on the table.
PVC Curling Iron Holsters
Hate the messy look of curling irons lying on the vanity or the toilet tank? Here’s a tip: Use hook-and-loop tape to attach 5-in. lengths of 2-in. PVC pipe to the vanity door to hold the curling irons. Do the same thing with 3-in. pieces of 1-1/2-in.-diameter pipe to hold the cords. Just measure your curling irons to see how long your “holsters” need to be. Let your curling irons cool before you stow them away.
Mini Hardware Holders
Store your itty-bitty screws, nails and driver bits in an easily accessible spot on your toolbox. Tack or screw a looped strip of 3/4-in. braided elastic (about $3 at a fabric store) to a convenient place and slide in loaded and labeled film canisters or pill containers. They’ll ride along snugly and within easy reach for all your jobs.
Keep the Tape Rolling
Slip a rubber band over the ‘ears’ of your packing tape dispenser as shown to keep the end of the tape from falling through the slot and then back onto the roll. The tape won’t stick to the rubber, so you’ll always be ready to roll.
Need some packing tape? Grab some now on Amazon.
Double-Lid Cord Reel
Make this handy cord reel using extra bucket lids. Cut a 5-in. length of 4×4 and then cut a groove in the side the same width as your cord. Fasten the lids to the 4×4 with 1/4 x 2-in. lag screws. Make handles from an old 1-1/8 in. diameter broom handle and drill a 1/2-in. hole through the center. Fasten the crank to the lid with bolts, nuts and washers, and apply Loctite sealant to the end nut. Fasten the handle to the 4×4 through the lid with a 6-1/2 in. lag screw. Just insert your cord and reel it in.
If your extension or power tool cord accidentally gets cut, here is the safe way to repair it.
No-Latch (or Hands-Free) Door Trick
Need to go in and out of the same door a bunch of times while carrying stuff? It can be tough to do when the door keeps latching shut. To keep that from happening, take a rubber band and loop it around one doorknob or handle. Then, twist the rubber band once and then loop it around the other knob. The rubber band holds the latch down, preventing the door from latching shut. Now if the door closes, you can push it back open with your body even if your hands are full. If you have a door latch that’s not working, here’s an easy fix. Or find out how to fix a rattling door.
Behind the Door Storage: Closet Glove Rack
If you don’t have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it’s no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won’t rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves. Make your own mitten drying rack with these inspirational ideas.
Better Tree Watering
It’s a lot of work to haul buckets of water to recently planted trees. Then, when you dump out the water at the base of the tree, the water quickly runs off. Here’s a solution from reader David Radtke: Get some old 5 gallon buckets and drill a 1/4-in. hole near the bottom of each one. After plugging the holes with dowels, fill the buckets and haul them to the trees in a wheelbarrow. Set the buckets near the base of the trees and unplug the holes. It takes several minutes for the buckets to drain, allowing the soil to soak up every drop.
Learn about successfully growing healthy shade trees in your yard here.
Portable Tool Kit
For many electricians, a 5-gallon bucket tool kit is a constant companion. Making one is super simple. Use an awl to poke holes around the perimeter for screwdrivers and store the rest of your tools in the bucket. Everything you need is at your fingertips and easy to carry from job to job.
Fishing Rod Organizer
Do you get sick and tired of your fishing rods getting tangled? Here’s an easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle. Drill 1-in. holes spaced every 4 in. in the PVC pipe. Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them 4 in. apart. Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with 2-in. screws. Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods. Look Ma, no more tangles!
Also, check out our favorite camping hacks that you’ll wish you knew earlier.
Battery-Powered Kite Retriever
Does it take forever to wind in your high-flying kite? Cut the tips off a plastic kite string spool and screw in a piece of 3/8-in. dowel, leaving a few inches of dowel sticking out. Tighten the end of the dowel in a 3/8-in. cordless drill. That’s it — run the drill to haul in that kite. Once you’re done, find the right place to store it in the garage.
Drill Bit Girdle
Save those wide rubber bands that are wrapped around broccoli and other veggies and stretch them over your electric or cordless drill. Use them for onboard storage of smaller drill and driver bits and screws. Wrangle the rest of your drill bits and other pointy tools with this wall-mounted ‘pincushion.’
You’d be amazed how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. Move playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 4-in.-diameter ‘Schedule 40’ PVC, which is available from home centers. Here’s how to do it:
- Lift the front edge of the stone with a pry bar and slip two pipes underneath. Place one near the front and one about midway so the stone rests on the pipes.
- Position the third pipe a foot or two in front of the stone.
- Roll the stone forward onto the third pipe until the rear pipe comes free. Then move the rear pipe to the front and repeat.
This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you’ll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilize the load. Don’t use this method on steeper slopes.
Instant Tool Holder
Store chisels, files, large drill bits, screwdrivers and other long tools so they’re both visible and close at hand. Simply cut off the top from a clear 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle, leaving a flap for hanging. Use smaller bottles, which are extremely common household items for smaller tools.
Ironing Board Back Saver
Working under the sink on your back isn’t exactly comfortable, especially when the sharp cabinet edge cuts into your shoulder blades. Make it more comfortable by lying on an ironing board. Set one end of the board inside the cabinet and support the other end with a scrap piece of 2×4. It won’t make the repair any easier, but it’s definitely easier on your back.
Tame that cord jungle under your desk with a length of 1/2-in. foam pipe insulation. Paint it the color of your wall and it will virtually disappear.
Find out how to paint faster so you can enjoy those appliances the cords go to.
Safe Cord Storage
To store elastic cords safely and neatly, reader Tim Groff offers this tip. Pull out the spine of an old three-ring binder. Punch out the rivets and screw the spine to the garage wall. The rings are the perfect spot to hang cords without dangerous tension.
Find out other helpful uses for a three-ring binder to help declutter.
Pipe Insulation Car Hack
Reader James Goldstein came up with a genius solution for preventing items such as keys or cell phones from falling between the seats and the console in a vehicle, which can be hard to retrieve and even dangerous if it happens while driving. He wedged pieces of foam pipe insulation in the gaps!
Custom Cord Wraps
Make your own cord wraps using old bungee cords and synthetic wine corks. Drill two holes in the cork, thread cord through the holes and tie off the ends. You can make them as long or as short as you want. They’re lightweight and work great for securing air hoses and other things, too. Plus wine corks can be one of those common household items that are plentiful.
Vinyl Siding Helper
Long lengths of vinyl siding can be tough to install by yourself, so reader Michael Winter came up with this trick. He hung a bungee cord on the wall above the siding and used it to hold the siding in place while he nailed it off. The elasticity of the bungee cord made it easy to pull the siding down to snap it into place before nailing. Find out how to install vinyl siding quickly.
No-Spill Grocery Bags
It’s a pain to crawl deep into the trunk to get all the groceries that spill out of your bags on the way home from the store. Here’s a simple solution using common household items from reader Vern McMeans: Run a long bungee cord through the bag handles and hook the ends to the sides of the trunk. Keep the bungee cord in the trunk so it’s there when you need it.
Short on space to store food or want a pantry? Check out some pantry ideas.
Get Crafty with Spray Foam
No need to be shy with the application for this use. Expanding spray foam can be used to build mountains — albeit small ones — which is perfect for school projects or hobbies, such as scenery for miniature train sets. For more crafty ideas, check out these easy to make Christmas ornaments.
Easy-Grip Tool Handles
Improve your grip and comfort when using hand tools by wrapping the handles of hammers, chisels, turning tools, clamps — just about anything with a handle — with the self-clinging tape used on hockey sticks (sold at sporting goods stores). The absorbent, textured surface keeps the handle from slipping around in your hand as you work, and you won’t have to grip it as firmly. It goes great on wheelbarrow handles as well and is just one of those common household items in some homes.